Mechanical loading promotes mast cell degranulation via RGD-integrin dependent pathways

J Biomech. 2013 Feb 22;46(4):788-95. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2012.11.014. Epub 2012 Dec 20.


Mast cells are known to respond to a number of stimuli, such as IgE antibody-antigen complexes, pathogens, chemical compounds, and physical stimulation, resulting in the activation of these cells and subsequent release of cytokines, inflammatory mediators and granules which can influence the pathophysiology of neighboring cells. Although different forms of physical stimulation (i.e. shear stress and acupuncture) have been investigated, the effect of cyclic tensile loading on mast cell activation has not. To characterize the response of mast cells to tensile loading, RBL-2H3 cells were embedded in a 3-dimensional fibrin construct and subjected to 24h of cyclic loading at 0%, 5% or 10% peak tensile strain. Mechanical loading significantly increased RBL-2H3 cell secretion of β-hexosaminidase (2.1- to 2.3-fold, respectively) in a load- and time-dependent manner when compared to the controls. Furthermore, no evidence of load-induced cell death or alterations in cell proliferation was observed. To determine if RGD-dependent integrins mediated the degranulation of mast cells during mechanical loading, cell-matrix interactions were inhibited by treating the cells with echistatin, a disintegrin that binds RGD-dependent integrins. Treatment with echistatin significantly attenuated load-induced degranulation without compromising cell viability. These results suggest a novel mechanism through which mechanical loading induces mast cell activation via RGD binding integrins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cell Degranulation / drug effects
  • Cell Degranulation / physiology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival
  • Integrins / metabolism
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Mast Cells / cytology
  • Mast Cells / drug effects
  • Mast Cells / physiology*
  • Oligopeptides / metabolism
  • Peptides / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tensile Strength
  • beta-N-Acetylhexosaminidases / metabolism


  • Integrins
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Oligopeptides
  • Peptides
  • echistatin
  • arginyl-glycyl-aspartic acid
  • beta-N-Acetylhexosaminidases